6.17.2008

The Other "Mona Lisa" and Ponderings of "Abstract" Art:

PORTRAIT OF A PORTRAIT: This sketch, by Raphael,
was made while Leonardo was still working on his
masterpiece. Several features, such as the two columns,
are similar to the painting ("London's 'Mona Lisa'")
kept by Dr. Henry Pulizter in London.

As most are familiar, one of Da Vinci's "trademarks" and distinct characteristics in which made his work stand out in an iconic fashion, was that he held his paintbrush in his left hand and would often times smooth in the paint with his right hand to achieve a particular effect. One way in which one is able to authenticate his work is by looking at his fingerprints that would often show up very clearly in the paintings. That being said, experts have compared other prints on a version of the "Mona Lisa" jointly owned by a Swiss syndicate and London scientist, Dr. Henry Pulitzer, with those prints on the other Da Vinci paintings, and, of course, the verdict was out! The painting that was in the possession of Dr. Pulitzer is an authentic Leonardo, a portrait of Mona Lisa del Giocondo.



LONDON'S "MONA LISA": A version which bears
fingerprints that match up with those on other
authenticated paintings by Da Vinci. It is thought to be of
Mona Lisa del Gioconda, while the Louvre version is of
Costanza d'Avalos, "La Gioconda."


Backtracking
a bit: I've always found interest in paintings that are shrouded in controversy, whether it be Oriental art, abstract art (especially that of "The Flowering of San Francisco" artists of the late 50's and early 60's), surrealism, Cubism, &c., whatever the "style" may be, interests me for the mere fact that, not only does my imaginative juices begin flowing, but my writing juices, as well. Of course, after studying one of the strangest paintings in the world, The Mystery of Mad Maggie (. . .as it's often called, though bears no "true name" — but the name of which it is acquired came from the earliest historian of Flemish painting, Carel van Mander, writing one generation after it was painted, called it Dulle Griet, which means "Mad Maggie". . .)

I realized that every image tells a story, and most usually, typically, suffers no loss of "mystery" (often considered by "non-understanders" labeling artists as raving lunatics, and fair enough!). Infinitely surprising to me is the notion that every object has to be "labeled" into a certain stimuli or nucleus before our brains can react from it with what we "know" from learning about it (elongated by the ''mathematics of communication'' - and we all know that we can and do enjoy certain sequences of quite abstract SOUNDS, [in this case, as an example] PATTERNS of pulsation of the air that we are almost devoid of human content). To me, everything is abstract in its own right; it's own existing mass. It's merely all how it's looked upon, and later, I will speak more about why "realistic art" and "abstract art" (as being said, the two offer no real logic as what should be debated as a particular art-form that is more superior to the other) can exist in the world side by side, even with one artist at the same time.

So, as I have been swept into another orbit (seeking an uprooted exploration); back to controversies and aesthetic expressionism ("Let no man under-value the implications of this work, or its power for Life — or for death, if it misused" — and what of the "now"; the "spirit of the place"?!) of Da Vinci and the false Mona Lisas.

The face of the "Mona Lisa" smiles mysteriously down, if you've ever noticed, and not only from the Louvre in Paris, but also from various walls (to this day, being carried around like a wallet, it would seem, or at least its "history" would speak of such). The latter, if you will, said by Pulitzer, but a completely different version by Da Vinci and his studio. And while there are more than sixty "alleged" Mona Lisas catalogued throughout the world, Pulitzer was most certain and positive that his own painting was of pure authencity.

Da Vinci, as he would point out, habitually did two or more versions of his portraits. The original sitter was Mona Lisa del Giocondo, who, at the time, was mourning the death of her baby daughter and wore a transparent veil during the sittings. Da Vinci spent fours years on the painting and he eventually left it with the Giocondos. Then, shortly before he went to France, at the invitation of Francis the First, Guiliano de Medici asked him to paint a portrait of his current mistress, Costanza d'Avalos. Coincidentally, Costanza not only resembled Mona Lisa ever-so-slightly, but was also nicknamed "La Gioconda" (which means "Smiler"). Da Vinci adapted his alternative version of Mona Lisa del Giocondo's portrait, turning the fact into that of Costanza. But, no sooner had he completed the work, Medici decided to drop his mistress in favor of a profitable marriage (good boy!) and so did not buy the picture from Leonardo after all. It was the second portrait, as Pulitzer had stated, that Da Vinci took with him, along with all of his other unsold works, to France. It is this version (of Constanza) that Pulitzer maintains, that graces the walls of the Louvre (or did, anyhow).




NUDE GIOCONDA: There were more than
60 alleged Mona Lisas, as is known, and here,
a seminude portrait of "La Belle Gabrielle,"
which is currently in the collection of Lord Spencer
of Northamptonshire, England,
and is "attributed to the school of Da Vinci."


In what case can be made that everything is abstract? To separate the two, firstly, would be silly. Secondly, there shouldn't be any other unequated progress that art should "stand alone" in one box, while every other label, mold, caricature, expression, dialect, critique, &c., &c., tries to dig that one particular thing out of the box to try and split it apart like a pecan. What lies inside that isn't as natural as we come to make of it? This isn't, of course, to decry the learning of various procedures and styles that are derived from the creative-forms of art, but to simplify it, as has been argued, to being something of which is subjected to that of one surface'd aspect of alienation, to me, is bland (the old attage, "everything is art," just as "everything is abstract," just as "everything is avant-garde," and so on. . .).

The artist must impose some of oneself and one's ideas on the material, in a way that uses the material sympathetically, but not passively. Otherwise, you are are only behaving like the waves. There essentially must be a human imprint and a human idea.

Some people think that some abstract art is mistaken. However, all art, as said, is abstract in one sense. Not to like abstract qualities or not to like reality is to basically misunderstand what art is all about. Some artists are just more "visual," or get more excitement from nature in front of them, and they make a work of art from that. Certain other individuals do it from their insides; perhaps with a more "mental approach"; the actual image-making or image-designing can be an exercise disconnected from a relationship with the "outside world."






Every Portrait is always connected with another Portrait:
Here, "Coffee" by Richard Diebenkorn, 1959

1 comment:

Chessa said...

clever you...

I love reading your entries...always learning something new.

Nowadays they call this "copyright infringement"...

I prefer to look at it as "inspiration".